On Triggers and Overcoming Defensiveness for Stronger Relationships

9 April 2024
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Welcome to This Week’s Newsletter!

According to renowned couples, therapist, and writer, John Gottman defensiveness is one of four behaviors that predict the end of any committed relationship.

Gottman refers to defensiveness as one of the ‘Four Horsemen’, along with CriticismStonewalling, and Contempt.

Defensiveness is a complex response that arises in reaction to a primary emotion, like shame, hurt, guilt, anger, and sadness.

It’s a coping mechanism, triggered by a perceived threat to our self-esteem, competence, or ego.

It is a shield most of us use from time to time to avoid feeling inadequate or incorrect.

Defensiveness is our inability to be with our own and others’ uncomfortable emotions.

This Week’s Challenge

Notice the moments when you become defensive and explore to understand the underlying triggers.

Two Incisive Questions

What situations or individuals make you feel defensive? Why do these particular circumstances trigger your defensive behavior?

How does your defensiveness impact your relationships and interactions with others? What becomes possible if you identify and manage your defensive responses constructively?

Three Practical Steps

Identify your triggers

Create a list of situations that trigger defensiveness, such as receiving criticism or difficult conversations, or any other scenario that typically triggers a defensive response.

Practice self-compassion

When you do find yourself becoming defensive, instead of judging yourself, show yourself the same kindness and understanding you’d offer a friend.

Acknowledge your feelings and remind yourself that it’s okay to feel defensive, but that you have the power to choose how you respond.

Develop a go-to routine

Create a calming routine to reduce defensiveness when it arises.

This could be going for a walk, deep breathing, or what ever works for you.

Practice this routine daily in calm situations first, so it comes naturally stressful times.

I hope these insights and practical steps will empower you to find greater balance and personal growth in your life.

In this week’s comprehensive article, “Overcoming Defensiveness: A Journey To Personal Growth And Improved Relationships,” you’ll learn how to understand and overcome defensiveness.

Read or listen to full article here.

Share this

Read Next